Preserved Plow Truck: 1983 GMC High Sierra

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Often times, plow rigs are beaten up and rusted out due to the very nature of the work they do. Amazingly, this 1983 GMC S15 High Sierra here on eBay has been set up since new for snow duty but been barely used. With only 19,500 original miles, this GMC remains in as-new condition and has avoided the cosmetic pitfalls that affect many of the trucks that head out when the weather is at its worst. 

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What’s most surprising is that based on the thoroughness of the plow installation – and the factory-like incorporation of the various controls and riggings – I can’t help but wonder if this S15 was set up since new to be a plow truck. A few weeks ago, we featured a Ford Bronco plow truck that never plowed anything other than the gas station its owner worked at, so perhaps this truck lead a similar life of limited use. As you can see here, the interior remains in stunning condition and the wood trim appears as new, certainly free from any scars of heavy-duty usage. The Western Plow controls are integrated nicely into the console, and there’s a plaque that notes the truck was custom built for the original owner.

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While the six-cylinder in these trucks will never win any horsepower wars, it is reputed to be a very reliable motor. Knowing a few plow drivers, a lot of them have told me over the years you just want something that will start every time and provide predictable weight transfer with that huge plow hanging off the front end. This GMC also has a limited-slip rear end, another must-have feature according to plow truck owners and operators. On another note, the jacked up suspension is intriguing – I can’t help but wonder why this S15 sits so high off the ground, aside from having a lift kit installed or incorrect tires and wheels.

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From the painted-to-match truck cap to the fender flares and running boards, someone spent a chunk of change on this GMC when it was new and clearly wanted the best-looking plow truck on the block. A former neighbor of mine actually has a fully-loaded Dodge Ram that he uses for plowing and had to have cost near $60K to build, so I’m not surprised that such a truck exists. $9,500 may seem high for a Buy-It-Now, but for a nearly-new ’83 GMC with all the toys still attached, I can’t imagine it being worth much less than this. If the reserve is set at $7K or so, this could be an unrepeatable opportunity to drive a showroom-fresh plow truck of this vintage.

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Comments

  1. Rando

    Built by Starcraft. I had to look – they make campers now. I knew I had heard the name before. They used to do boats, vehicle conversions, etc. High quality stuff back in this vehicle’s day.

    I thought it might have a body lift because of the position of the front bumper. BUT the engine doesn’t look to be down in the bay. And the rear bumper is still tucked nicely, so the plow kit may require the bumper to be relocated for hte plowing equipment? Current tires aren’t too big, but looks like it does have space for a more aggressive wheel and tire set.

    Nice truck. Don’t see many this age in this condition.

  2. boxdin

    GMs new idea here was to build the gutless 2.8 V6 without gaskets. Of course they later went to gaskets as it was a disaster. The 2.6 was so low on power I don’t see how this truck plows anything but a level driveway. The sloppy wiring under the hood is also not attractive at all. Is that a body lift? Why?

    • dave

      That looks like a battery tender.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Exactly

      • Bobsmyuncle

        How are you supposed to shift into 4WD?

    • gene polis

      I had a 1983 S-10 Blazer 4×4, with the 2bbl 2.8 V6…..what a DOG…..lol no power, lousy gas mileage…….BUT it was reliable……..until the 700R4 tranny burned up…….way to go penny pinchers at GM!!

  3. Bill

    Starcraft was a van conversion company that did all sorts of vehicles through dealerships. They tended to rust badly wherever bolted on additions were added. This one appears to be in real good shape. The issue is the anemic engine. GM offered a 4.3 litre that provided a little extra, but the engine that’s in this one would be hard pressed to push much snow.

    • Mike H. Mike H.

      Not was, but IS a truck and van conversion company. They still peddle tarted up rides for the discerning customer, sold through dealerships with full warranties. I used to see these around pretty regularly through the 1990’s. . . I have a good friend who had a K5 Blazer with a Starcraft conversion; tons of thick oak trim and plush velour seating.

      http://www.starcraftparts.com/categories/36/Van-Truck-Conversions

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Yep, my parents had a Dodge Starcraft conversion van, sometime in the ’90s. Not a bad job, either. I thought the wood in the interior of this truck looked familiar.

  4. JW

    Unusual to see a Chicago area vehicle of this age and especially a plow truck not completely trashed with rust and or body damage. They were built to work hard as I owned a couple of these in my snow removal business back then. The engine is smaller than what I had but the gearing on a plow truck is what matters the most to keep the truck moving under load. I also had a 1 ton Chevy with a 350 v8 that could plow a foot of snow in a 152 unit condo complex without a issue but had others with a 1/2 or 3/4 ton with a beefy 454 spinning their wheels when the snow piled up.

  5. Kincer Dave Member

    I had an 88 S15 Jimmy with the 2.8 and it was gutless as far as getting moving fast but it would run nice on the highway, I can say this about it, it would go almost anywhere in the snow and it was very reliable. I would have rather had the 4.3 but it never let me down.

  6. Peregrine Lance

    Having owned several Starcraft products–slide-out travel trailers and full-height models, I would rank them as good or as bad as any other of the genus. Usually, thin aluminum cards or panels play bread in a sandwich of foam sheeting. The foam doesn’t resist weathering or oxidizing as well as it could; but the product results are wholly adequate for the weekender; and a decent one should last at least as long as your interest. (I might think twice if I want a round-the-world bunk.) Being weight-conscious, the only really solid joist in the bunch is the floor frame; but the camper will come to appreciate those construction considerations. Buy an old one for which the disheartened owner wants pennies, not bucks. ($400 was my average cost for models sleeping five.) I’m of two conflicting minds: (1) Look for bargains, and (2) support the industry. But do bear in mind: A NEW travel house is only for the retired couple who hit it big or planned well, then walked away from Wall Street.

  7. tugdoc

    I have a ’93 S10 2WD 2.Hate. I bought it with 76000 miles now has 324000. It was my commuter and only left me twice. The only engine parts replaced was a water pump and distributor. I still drive it anytime I need a p/u. It did whatever I needed it to do sometimes not as quick as I would have liked but it completed it’ task. Early 2.8 were dogs but they improved them over time. Now days the 60* V6 comes in nearly all GM lines including Cads. It’s always been a torquey little engine and that’s whats needed to push snow.

  8. Alan (Michigan)

    No No, No.
    I am a GM car fan, and am from a family that owned mostly GM vehicles for decades.

    But putting a plow on a light-duty vehicle such as this has never been a good idea.
    The S-10 Chevrolet and S-15 GMC series trucks and small SUV’s were intended for and built for light-duty use only. Pushing snow is anything but that.

    My take is that the only reason this truck has survived in this good a condition is that it has never really been used for plowing, other than to push the snow from the owner’s driveway. Ok, perhaps also the next-door neighbor’s.

    The conversion part is interior, paint, and trim related. Wheel well arches, running boards, wood dashboard trim, console. Maybe the seats were swapped too. Starcraft has built conversion vans for many years. I gather then that it was Starcraft which installed the rear-facing seat in the bed of the truck (I’d NEVER ride there), and the cap. It appears to me that the “rear heater” amounts to an electric type mounted in the truck’s bed.

    So the plow is by Western. Perhaps Starcraft was responsible for that installation, or maybe they got the truck to trim out after that was already attached.

    In any case, what we have here is a fancy, low mileage white elephant.

    Suitable for home use.

    Commercial plow companies, even an owner of anything other than a very small apartment complex, would find it to be wholly inadequate.

    • T2

      This truck ended up in the Michigan upper peninsula. I own it now.

      • T2

        You are particularly right

      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Curious about your plans for the truck, T.

        The UP is certainly a place where snow happens. — a lot — in the winter. Are you going to try and push much snow with it?

        BTW, I am Alan (Michigan), added the new name after becoming a forum member.

        Like 1
      • T2

        I drive it pretty much daily. The plow is off now. It has 22,000 miles now and we enjoy taking it to car shows. The next one will be the hines drive cruise

  9. Ron (Florida)

    Ditch the ugly cap, the fender flares and get a wheel and tire combo that doesn’t look too small for the truck and I’d love this. I’ve had 3 first gen S-10s and an 89 Blazer and loved them all. My first was an 85 with the 2.8, the motor was a dog and it had carburetor issues in the winter. The rest had the 4.3 which was an excellent motor. Easy for me to work on and other than the 85, never left me stranded.

  10. T stone

    This truck now belongs to me

    • T2

      I drive it pretty much daily. The plow is off now. It has 22,000 miles now and we enjoy taking it to car shows. The next one will be the hines drive cruise

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